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When Doves Cries
December 22, 2013 4:24 PM   Subscribe

"ON DARK evenings in late 1916, a frail 76-year-old man could often be seen shuffling furtively between The Dove, a pub in west London, and the green and gold turrets of Hammersmith Bridge. Passers-by paid no attention, for there was nothing about Thomas Cobden-Sanderson’s nightly walks to suggest that he was undertaking a peculiar and criminal act of destruction." The Economist's Christmas Edition tells the story of "the Fight Over the Doves": “No more graceful Roman letter has ever been cut and cast,”


A digital Doves Type

The Doves Type's Twitter feed.
Buy the Doves type at Typespec
posted by chavenet (23 comments total) 30 users marked this as a favorite

 
I have a love/hate relationship with typography and type foundries. I collect books on typography, I read them, I try to make sure I use them well. But they are so damn expensive that at the end of the day I've basically decide I need three fonts. A header font. A body font. And a mono spaced font. If pressed I'll take a fourth and use it as a sub-head (but that's what bolding is for).

As far as fonts, go, this is a reasonably price one, but another problem I have with fonts is their licensing. No two are ever licensed the same, your license is dependent on use. Print? Probably fine. Online or video? Better check. Embedded in ePub? What are you a fucking communist‽

I spend a decade and a half trying to explain fonts to people and why the font they got off the internet couldn't be used in an ad. "But I outlined it!" Why the font wouldn't print. "I included it in the PDF package!" Or why it wasn't legal for use. "No you can't use the Infinity font in anything other than Infinity car ads." I could go on all day.

Sometimes it wasn't even the font, but where you got it. "Was that licensed through Adobe or Monotype? If it's Adobe you can't use it in video."

Seriously, I'm ready to through them all into a river as well.
posted by cjorgensen at 4:56 PM on December 22, 2013 [9 favorites]


If you're in LA, visit the International Printing Museum. We went there (on the day of the Printer's Fair!) and they had tons (literally) of old equipment that they've collected, including cabinet after cabinet holding old type. It's so weird to see "Caslon 24" as a label on a drawer instead of in a drop-down menu on a GUI. (They've also got a working Linotype machine, though they might not fire it up every day.)
posted by benito.strauss at 5:12 PM on December 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


£40 for a font is fairly cheap, especially when one looks at the prices commanded for other revivals. (Like, for example, New Rail Alphabet, a revival of the British Rail signage typeface that's virtually indistinguishable from Helvetica, but for the price tag (£100 per weight or £1,000 for the lot). I wonder how many takers they have.)
posted by acb at 5:32 PM on December 22, 2013


I sorta knew font licensing was a mess, although I've never had to confront that dragon in mortal combat. It sounds like an interesting, exotic outlier in the whole IP law battlescape. What might be a sane model, though?
posted by Devonian at 5:35 PM on December 22, 2013


But they are so damn expensive that at the end of the day I've basically decide I need three fonts. A header font. A body font. And a mono spaced font. If pressed I'll take a fourth and use it as a sub-head (but that's what bolding is for).

I tend to use only a small group of fonts, like you. But every few years, I get bored with them and start itching for a new set. It can take me months to scan through groups of fonts and decide what I like and which fonts will be harmonious. I spent a few weeks looking recently, but I gave up with no conclusions.

Darn it, I miss the gold old days of Multiple Master Fonts, when you could just pick ONE font and dial up different features like weight and width.

BTW, if you're in Tokyo, visit the Toppan Printing Museum.
posted by charlie don't surf at 5:47 PM on December 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


That's a beautiful face and a great story. Thanks!
posted by wemayfreeze at 5:51 PM on December 22, 2013


cjorgensen, that’s pretty much what Robert Bringhurst advises in Elements of Typographic Style: pick a font, use it to death until you understand it, then maybe branch out.

Right now we’re all living in Peak Gotham and it’s driving me a little batty.
posted by migurski at 5:51 PM on December 22, 2013


Right now we’re all living in Peak Gotham and it’s driving me a little batty.

In Gary Hustwit's documentary Helvetica, it is mentioned how the eponymous typeface went from being the face of a clean, new modernism in the early 1960s to being the epitome of The Man in the late 60s/early 70s (one interviewee describes Helvetica as the official typeface of the Vietnam War). One does wonder whether or not Gotham (the Obama “HOPE” typeface) is bound on a similar trajectory, becoming the official typeface of drone strikes and NSA dragnet surveillance and thus deeply uncool.
posted by acb at 5:56 PM on December 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


I don't get it. What's wrong with just using Comic Sans for everything?
posted by happyroach at 5:59 PM on December 22, 2013 [7 favorites]


For now, it’s the official typeface of all the stuff on the screen before the movie starts, from the MPAA guidelines to the posters and titles.

I wish Cooper Black had won the font wars.
posted by migurski at 6:03 PM on December 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


I don't get it. What's wrong with just using Comic Sans for everything?

HE WANTS TO TASTE THE CURB! HE WANTS TO TASTE THE FUCKING CURB!
posted by loquacious at 6:36 PM on December 22, 2013 [14 favorites]


Lately I get requests for business letters but transmitted by email as a PDF. So I write the letter in Adobe Prestige Elite and format it like a traditional business letter. I think I will have to stop doing that, I suspect they think I'm poking fun at them.

Nowadays my go-to font is Trade Gothic.
posted by charlie don't surf at 6:41 PM on December 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Over a ton of metal type and no one has found any of it.

Swept out with the type or buried in muck?
posted by TWinbrook8 at 10:28 PM on December 22, 2013


Probably all caught by the Thames Type Barrier.
posted by dhartung at 10:31 PM on December 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


Type cast.
posted by pracowity at 10:37 PM on December 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


I definitely typed "tide" in my mind.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 10:39 PM on December 22, 2013


That reminds me since I've reinstalled that I need to track down all those WordPerfect disks I've been collecting from the thrift shops over the years and reinstall the fonts again. Doves kind of reminds me of a more artsy/craftsy version of the Bitstream Humanist that they loved throwing in there.
posted by mcrandello at 12:30 AM on December 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


I just want an affordable Celtic font, which could be used when I need it.
It's the 21st century!
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 1:04 AM on December 23, 2013


HE WANTS TO TASTE THE FUCKING CURB!

I'M COMIC SANS, ASSHOLE.
posted by panglos at 4:22 AM on December 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


No two are ever licensed the same, your license is dependent on use. Print? Probably fine. Online or video? Better check. Embedded in ePub? What are you a fucking communist‽

How about this one? A font that is licensed for use in print, but not licensed for embedding in an electronic document...like a PDF? I still have deep scars on my forehead from pounding it against the wall when I ran into one of those.
If you don't work in print, you may not quite grasp what a nut-kicker that particular licensing arrangement is.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:58 AM on December 23, 2013


TWinbrook8, the Thames is a powerful river, and individual pieces of type don't weigh that much, I'm not surprised that there isn't any left around where he dumped it. I would expect that some of it would have turned up on the mudflats, but it's unlikely anyone would connect it to an obscure dispute, just thought it was worn type that had been used to weight something or otherwise lost in the river. Probably just got gathered to be sold as scrap metal or ignored until it washed into the sea.

Or he could have hidden it somewhere and then made up an elaborate story to explain how it had gone missing, but given the difficulty of transporting it and the guy's obsession, the bridge story does make sense.
posted by tavella at 6:46 AM on December 23, 2013


£40 for a font is fairly cheap, especially when one looks at the prices commanded for other revivals.

I don't think this is expensive on it's own, but sometimes these things are licensed per face. I fell in love with a font once, but I totaled the faces and it was going to be a grand to buy it and I'd still not be able to legally embed it as a web font or in an ePub. A grand for one font isn't that rare. Now pretend you actually want to have some options…like maybe a few hundred legal fonts. At even only £40 a font this quickly becomes real money. Especially if all you want to do is some small self-publishing or maybe run a website that doesn't have to resort to system fonts.

If you don't work in print, you may not quite grasp what a nut-kicker that particular licensing arrangement is.

Yeah, or the fact that you have to buy them for all your output devices too. So every distilling or ripping box anywhere in your workflow has to have them. I worked for a newspaper and we couldn't have a central build because of fonts. Advertising and News maintains their own sets (the two can't share fonts for design and editorial reasons). Add in dozens of different papers and fonts were the thing of the devil.

As an IT guy try explaining this to designers. I finally stopped. They won. "Here, have font management software and use whatever font you like. Just know this is the installed and licensed set. Use something else? Go with god."

This is why I think google's web fonts are awesome.

I think font makers should be compensated for their work. I would just like to be able to use what they create and compensate them fairly. 30 run chapbook? Here's a dollar. It's like Photoshop to me. I don't need that program to crop my images and compress them, but it used to be the only thing around, so I paid the $600. I would have rather just paid a $1 every time I actually needed the software. Now I use Acorn and am super happy. I've done the same with fonts. I stay away from the big guys and use the ones that are licensed in a "pay what you like" manner like: Lost Type.
posted by cjorgensen at 11:39 AM on December 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Holy crap, Lost Type is awesome. Thanks for the link!
posted by wemayfreeze at 2:28 AM on December 26, 2013


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